HAZARD — For the 11th year in a row, Perry County Central’s drama program, The Perry County Commodore Players will be attending the Kentucky Theatre Association’s (KTA) High School Drama Festival in Bowling Green on Nov. 13. The Players will perform Janine Naber’s “Letters to Kurt” for their competition piece.
“It’s the sweet 16 of Kentucky theatre,” said Director Phil Neace. The Players are one of 16 drama teams that will perform during the KTA drama festival, and each team performs their competition piece only once.
Once the first foot is seen on stage, the 45 minute timer begins. If a team goes over the time limit by even just one second, they are disqualified.
The cast and crew had only two weeks to rehearse before KTA. Some of the props were made in the drama class and the students would rehearse after school for one hour.
Last year, a senior at Perry County High School senior came up with the idea of doing “Letters to Kurt” during a spring performance, but for some reason it wasn’t chosen, Neace said.
“The kids have totally gotten into this so much. I think more than any other play that we have ever taken to KTA and I think it is the subject matter,” said Neace.
The play explores the Grunge 90’s, and the teenage angst that came along with it. The main character, Molly, copes with the death of Kurt Cobain.
“The teenage angst is universal. Every generation goes through it, but one thing I feel sorry about teenagers today is they don’t actually have a Kurt Cobain,” said Neace.
The Players have won minor awards at KTA in past competitions. The KTA awards the top three teams in the state. The Players have had students and/or groups of students selected for the all state cast for seven years in a row. Neace hopes they continue this year with that tradition.
“The first award that they (the team) goes for is the standing ovation. It is not a given thing. We have received four of those. That is the one thing… to impress your peers, to get that, you have totally accomplished something,” Neace said.
Neace pointed out that while they have not been in the top three, he knows for a fact that they have been in the top five.
“For a small town school that competes against schools that have programs that have ungodly sets and funding like you wouldn’t believe, professionally made, we’re a group of students that bring everything. Yeah, we’ll take that,” said Neace.
Senior Madison Combs, who plays Molly, is a huge fan of the band Nirvana. The lead singer of the band was Kurt Cobain and the basis of the play. Molly writes letters to Cobain, and tries to deal with the loss of his death throughout the play.
“I was so happy that this was a Nirvana play. I was so psyched about it… I’m crazy about them, ” said Combs. She has been with the The Players since her freshman year of high school.
Austin Burgett, a junior, plays Jake. He likes to joke that he is playing Jake from State Farm because not much is known about his character, except that his character will be attending college.
“Not really,” said Burgett on whether he was a fan of Nirvana or not.
Combs said that while there is many differences between her and her character, she does share a few similarities with Molly.
“I’m not a teenage runaway or really that sad, I guess but I can relate to her on the point of she feels like she is the only one in her family that tries and she kind of feels alone a lot. I can kind of relate to that part. I’m not really super manic depressed, but I’ve been there before,” she said.
The Players will perform “Letters to Kurt” on Friday at 6:30 p.m. in Bowling Green at Western Kentucky University.
TJ Caudill can be reached at 606-436-5771 or on Twitter @HazardHerald.